If you like Roadfood, you probably appreciate a restaurant that can properly be called a shack. The South is especially rich with shacks — divey, graffiti-splotched, ramshackle eateries where the setting may be shabby, but meals are on the beam.
Rhinehart’s is a good example. In this overgrown shack, where seating is at wooden picnic tables deeply carved with graffiti, plates are paper, cocktails come in plastic cups, and beer is drunk straight from its longneck bottle. (No draughts.) The house motto is “Beyond Casual.” The intense informality is to some degree a fabrication that has been consciously cultivated; but rather then worry the fine points of authenticity, let’s talk about the food, which is swell.
I was first directed here by Larry Byers, a friend over the Savannah River in Aiken, who said that his go-to dish is the oyster po boy. Oh, yes! It’s a beauty, built on a length of bread that is scrumptiously herbed, buttered, and toasted. The oysters are clad in a fragile crust seasoned just enough to halo the lavish marine sweetness inside. I like the oysters so much that next time I order this sandwich, I am going to pay for a double helping.
Likewise, I wish there had been a few more shrimp and hunks of sausage in my jambalaya appetizer. Surely, there are more in the meal-size version. But my complaint is about quantity, not quality. This jambalaya is a vividly spiced balancing act, every forkful a slightly different mix of taste and texture.
I very much enjoy a dish called Mysterious Pasta Salad, which is rotini noodles, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and olives. It is available as an appetizer/ salad or – with grilled shrimp or chicken added – as an entrée.
Those seeking a big-time meal are well-advised to consider Lime Butter Grilled Garlic Chicken and Shrimp. It’s big portions of each atop a bed of rice along with unctuous (and impossible to stop eating) garlic toast and a ramekin of peppery/sweet Jamaican spiced pineapple sauce.
Seafood (with drinks) is the reason to come to Rhinehart’s, but fish-frowners can avail themselves of a half-pound hamburger, a French dip, or fried chicken fingers that come with a cup of grits.
Note: A second Rhinehart’s is located in Evans, at 305 North Bel Air Rd. (706-868-6850)